FULLERTON, Calif. – Following three first-team nods on the All-Big West Conference team earlier this week, Cal State Fullerton juniors Missy Taukeiaho and Courtney Rodriguez were named to the 2015 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-West Region First-Team while freshman Samantha Vandiver earned a spot on the second-team on Thursday.
The Titans place a trio of student-athletes on the NFCA All-West Region teams for the first time since 2003 while Rodriguez and Taukeiaho become the first duo since 2006 to reach first-team honors since Candice Baker (2004-07) and Ashley Van Boxmeer (2005-07).
"Our entire coaching staff couldn't be happier and more proud of Missy Taukeiaho, Courtney Rodriguez and Samantha Vandiver," said head softball coach Kelly Ford. "These student-athletes set the tone for our program in providing a lethal mix of speed, power, and a true knowledge of the game. All three have been pivotal in our success this season and the recognition is well deserved."
The awards honor softball student-athletes from the Association's 10 regions with first, second and third teams selected for each region. The all-region teams were voted on by NFCA member coaches from each respective region, and all the honorees now become eligible for selection to one of three 2015 NFCA Division I All-American teams.
Taukeiaho captures her second consecutive nod on the NFCA All-West Region First-Team becoming the first Titan to do so since Candice Baker accomplished the feat from 2005-06. She completed another impressive campaign, turning in a .390 average to go along with 10 doubles, 12 home runs and 41 RBIs. The native from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. missed 10 games, but still managed to lead the team in slugging percentage (.728) and on-base percentage (.488) while recording nearly three times the number of walks (27) to strikeouts (10). Sitting at 31 home runs in just two seasons at Cal State Fullerton, Taukeiaho is fourth all-time for most career home runs. She will enter her senior campaign on the heels of Ashley Van Boxmeer (2005-07) with 32 and Jenny Topping (2001-03) with 33 long balls in third and second place, respectively. Another 16 round-trippers would tie Yasmin Mossadeghi's (1999-02) 47 homers for the program record.
"Missy continues to change the culture of Titan softball since the first day she put on the uniform," added Ford. "Being a two-time recipient of such an honor is no easy task and the fact that she missed a handful of games shows that she battled a great deal of adversity to still find success. Missy did an exceptional job in being selectively aggressive at the plate while always ready to capitalize when an opportunity presented itself. One of the most explosive bats in the nation, I'm proud to see her grow as a leader and mentor."
Rodriguez, a transfer from the University of Arizona, was one of three Titans to start in all 56 games. Complimenting a .406 average, the native of Scottsdale, Ariz. boasted team highs in at-bats (197), runs (41), hits (80), and RBI (42). Rodriguez was Fullerton's top threat on the base paths, swiping 15 bags in 17 attempts. Her six triples place her fifth in the program record books for most in a single-season. The center fielder was also stellar defensively, carding a .987 fielding percentage with 72 putouts, six assists, and three double plays. Rodriguez will take a 10-game hitting streak into next season after posting a 12-game tear earlier in the year. She earned the Titans' second nod for a conference player of the week honor on March 16 while leading the team with the most multi-hit performances (23) including eight three-hit efforts and 11 multi-RBI games.
"Courtney was a vital part of our success this season, representing a triple threat to the extreme," stated Ford. "Her work ethic and never-give-up attitude has reshaped our culture. Courtney really is one of those special student-athletes that can do it all and help us in so many different ways. I've had the privilege to see her succeed in such a short period of time as a Titan and we look to use her as one of our most vital assets for next season."
Leading Cal State Fullerton to its highest single-season team batting average at .312, Vandiver recorded a program record 24-game hitting-streak in her first 24 starts. She will take a team high 13-game streak into the 2015-16 season. The Huntington Beach, Calif. native posted the second highest average for a Titan in any single-season with a .459 clip, just shy of four-time first-team All-American Jenny Topping's mark of .472 in 2002. Batting from the left-side, Vandiver surpasses Sue Lewis' 34-year reign for top freshman average (.408) in 1981. The left fielder also earned Big West Player of the Week honors earlier this year on March 9. Vandiver recorded a conference second-best .496 on-base percentage and led the circuit with 32 hits in 21 conference games while striking out only eight times over the course of the entire season.
"Once Samantha was inserted into the leadoff position, she went on an absolute tear," Ford said.
"Easily one of the toughest outs in the country, she has been imperative in setting the table for our offense while always being disruptive to opposing pitchers. Samantha's bat control is beyond her experience as a freshman and we strive to use her competitive mentality toward our program goals for many seasons to come."
The trio of Titans helped guide Cal State Fullerton to a 34-22 overall record and fourth place finish in the Big West Conference. Combined with 33 wins in 2014, this marks the first back-to-back 30-win seasons since 2006-07. Fullerton also finished with the second-best RPI (52) in the league slightly behind conference champion CSUN (48). The 2015 NFCA Division I All-America teams will be announced on Wednesday, May 27, via NFCA.org
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